Same-sex marriage in the Northern Mariana Islands
Same-sex marriage in the Northern Mariana Islands was legalized by the United States Supreme Court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling on June 26, 2015, which found it unconstitutional to restrict same-sex marriage rights. On June 29, 2015, Governor Eloy Inos hailed the decision as "historic" in a statement and said he would work with the Attorney General and local officials in the Northern Mariana Islands to bring the U.S. territory into compliance. Attorney General Edward Manibusan issued a memo on June 30 confirming that the territory is bound by the court decision, calling its statutes defining marriage between a man and a woman "illegal and unenforceable", and updating its marriage application to provide for same-sex couples.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
There is no prohibition on same-sex marriage in the law of the territory, nor do the statutes specify the sex of the parties to a marriage between citizens of the Northern Mariana Islands. Other provisions assume the parties to a marriage are not of the same sex. With respect to a marriage involving one or more non-citizens, the statutes say: "The male at the time of contracting the marriage be at least 18 years of age and the female at least 16 years of age..." Statutes concerning divorce assume that the partners to a marriage are man and wife.
In December 2004, the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives voted 15-0 with 1 abstention in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment, however, failed to pass the Senate.
Decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that found same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho unconstitutional were binding precedent on federal courts in the Northern Marianas before Obergefell v. Hodges. However, between October 2014 when the precedent came into effect, and June when the Supreme Court struck down all bans, no same-sex couple had filed suit in the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands to force the issue.
Saipan Mayor David Apatang conducted the first same-sex marriage in the territory on July 22, 2015, saying it was his "legal obligation" to perform the union. He said he was following the June 30 memorandum issued by the Attorney General. An updated version of the Northern Mariana Islands' marriage form provided by the Attorney General's office was used for the couple. By late August 2015, Apatang had performed three same-sex marriages.
14 same-sex marriages were performed in Saipan between January 1 and March 15, 2017. 88 same-sex marriages were performed in Saipan in all of 2017. Of these, 63 were between women and 25 between men.
90 same-sex marriages were performed in Saipan in the first half of 2018. Of these, 61 were between women and 29 between men. Same-sex marriages accounted for 77% of all marriages performed on the island during that time (there were 27 opposite-sex marriages; for a total of 117 marriages). Most couples came from China, but there were also Russians, South Koreans and Bangladeshis.
- LGBT rights in the Northern Mariana Islands
- Same-sex marriage in Guam
- Same-sex marriage in the United States
- Recognition of same-sex unions in Oceania
- Pinaroc, Joel (June 29, 2015). "Inos to initiate consultations with AG, mayors on same-sex ruling". Saipan Tribune. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
- De La Torre, Ferdie (June 30, 2015). "AG says they will be working with Inos admin in drafting regs". Saipan Tribune. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
- Todiño, Junhan (July 27, 2015). "Apatang officiates first same-sex marriage on Saipan". Marianas Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- "Commonwealth Code". Northern Mariana Islands Law Revision Commission. Title 8 Section 1205. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "Commonwealth Code". Northern Mariana Islands Law Revision Commission. Title 8 Section 1201. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "Commonwealth Code". Northern Mariana Islands Law Revision Commission. Title 8 Section 1331. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
A divorce from marriage may be granted ... for the following causes ... Willful neglect by the husband to provide suitable support for his wife when able to do so
- "Commonwealth Code". Northern Mariana Islands Law Revision Commission. Title 8 Section 1332. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
In actions for dissolution of marriage, neither the domicile nor residence of the husband shall be deemed to be the domicile or residence of the wife....
- House OKs ban on same-sex marriage Saipan Tribune
- HLI 14-03
- Wetzstein, Cheryl (October 8, 2014). "Gay marriages in Idaho put on hold by Justice Kennedy". Washington Times. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
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- Number of same-sex marriages expected to grow Saipan Tribune
- Acting Saipan mayor happy for same-sex couples Marians Variety
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